Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This past week Fr. David, his sister and some parishioners from our parish returned from Assisi Italy – the birthplace of our patron Francis. He joined with Pope Benedict XVI and more than 300 religious leaders on October 27 in a pilgrimage to Assisi.
They were there to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Assisi interfaith gathering for peace hosted by Blessed John Paul II in 1986. Pope Benedict brought together the religious leaders and for the first time four philosophers who describe themselves as humanists or seekers who do not identify with any single religion. The Pope condemned the use of religion to excuse violence and the use of violence to impose a religion, as well as the growing violence resulting from “the loss of humanity” that comes from denying the existence of God and of objective moral standards. “As a Christian, I want to say at this point: Yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame,” Pope Benedict said. Christian leaders, like all religious leaders, he said, must work constantly to help their followers purify their faith and be “an instrument of God’s peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.”
In the afternoon, gathered in the square in front of the church’s lower level, the Pope and 13 other leaders renewed their commitments to peace. Pope Benedict said: “Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love!” Before leaving, the pope told the leaders, “We will continue to meet” and to “be united in this journey of dialogue” for the good of the world. In the adjacent column, Fr. David shares this reflection on his experience.
In the peace of Christ,
“It was a joy and a privilege for five of us to join with our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, as well as with thousands of people from around the world, in Assisi, to celebrate and pray for peace. Even non-believers were included in the delegation. It was exciting for us to join with them, praying for an end to war and for a peace built upon justice. The pictures above are of our celebration of Mass at the tomb of St. Francis and all of us gathered at the “Holy Convent,” the friary of the Conventual Friars next to the Basilica of St. Francis overlooking the city of Assisi.
At the tomb of St. Francis where we celebrated Mass, we gave thanks to God for all of you, our fellow parishioners, in your personal witness for peace, as well as in our parish’s commitment to peace and justice.”